Why we don’t care about each other

If you sometimes feel as if people don’t care about each other anymore, you’re not entirely wrong.

Drop in empathy

According to a study performed a few years back among college students, they displayed a drastic drop in empathy.  One can only assume that the situation is even worse by now.

Narcissism

A new selfishness is on the rise and narcissism seems to be becoming an epidemic. Narcissists are people who believe the world revolves around them and they are unable to identify with the needs of others at all.

If they need you

Certain individuals only appear to “care” for your needs, when they feel they need you and you are directly able to alleviate their burdens. If their need for you is diminished or others step in to fill the gap, their concern will soon be a thing of the past.

What’s killing our empathy?

It’s a sad fact of the hectic modern world that we have very little time for our children and that some parents are almost never home, often because they have to work. If you have no time for yourself and you are almost always tired, it diminishes your capacity to care for the needs of others. You also don’t have time to really get to know your children and their changing needs.

Lack of time

Then there’s the drastic drop in time for unstructured free play among children. Their schedules are full from an early age – they have to excel at school and extra-mural activities. The study work load is ever increasing. Children also don’t really have time anymore to get to know each other in a relaxed environment, which in turn encourages them to really care about each other.

Parents

As a parent, I aim to teach my children the value of empathy and I think it is important that we realise humans are connected and that we need each other. The world will be a healthier place if people are kinder to each other, like the MacDonald’s employee in Chicago, who closed his till to assist and feed an elderly, disabled customer, who asked him for help.

Raising boys…

I’ve been thinking about raising boys, probably because I will soon have two.

The outside

We recently undertook a trip to a beautiful lifestyle farm near Stanford in the Western Cape. Ewan was in his element and thoroughly enjoyed himself. We had to watch him like hawks and run after him to ensure that he didn’t disappear into the bushes and the fynbos by himself.

Boys just want to be outside

We were all sad to leave on the last day and Ewan told me a long story about walking and running in the “ousside”. The poor little man cried bitter tears of disappointment when it was back to the old routine of work and playschool on Monday…

He learnt the word “ousside” at a young age and it quickly became clear that this is where he wants to be at all cost, even when it is raining and freezing. I also noticed that he was much better behaved than usual while on our holiday trip. Tantrums were almost non-existent. 😛

This behaviour, talking to my husband and reading certain literature, has made me wonder about how we are raising boys in the modern world.

Neutering boys at a young age

Even renowned feminists such as Camille Paglia, is speaking out against the neutering of boys. According to her, failing to recognise the biological differences between men and women are leading to the destruction of modern society.

It seems many boys get labelled as ADHD or with other learning difficulties if teachers find them hard to handle. But isn’t the school setup simply more suited to girls, who have a greater capacity for sitting still and concentrating for long periods of time?

Is modern society more suited to women?

How frustrated many men must be in the modern world, especially those with lots of energy who find themselves cooped up in an office all day for the sake of earning a living.

In previous centuries, you had more options, but these days you basically have to spend your whole day inside, mostly stuck on an office chair, for “work”, even though no physical work is actually performed.

How many men have find themselves becoming immersed in dysfunctional and criminal behaviour to escape this tedious existence? Partaking in the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, road rage and extra-marital affairs just to get a little excitement in their lives. Even I, as a woman, with little taste for possible dangerous excitement, find the office existence tedious.

I’m sure many men can identify with the film and the novel, Fight Club:
We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping. There’s nothing to kill anymore, there’s nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman [the narrator] is created.
—David Fincher[5]

The male protagonists start a fighting club, which allows men to get rid of their natural aggression. It’s also a protest against entrapment by a consumerist society.

The future for boys

Although I am a bit concerned about raising happy and well-balanced boys, I’m at least comforted by the fact that their father and grandfather are excellent male role models. 🙂